GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — You don’t have to be in high school to dress up and attend prom. On Saturday, a Grand Haven-based nonprofit will host Prom with a Purpose, inviting anyone in the community to participate in an evening of dinner, dancing and a silent auction.
The event, one of the largest annual fundraisers for the Momentum Center, will return to an in-person format for the first time since the pandemic.
The prom will be held at the Trillium Event Center in Spring Lake from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds from the event and silent auction will benefit the nonprofit.
“The money that comes to us really allows for a lot of flexibility and meets a lot of different needs in the community. We try to make sure that we use that money appropriately and make sure that we are meeting the needs as much as we can,” said Caleb Zokoe, the center’s chief funding officer.
The auction portion of the prom will be online this year. So even if you can’t attend, you can still offer support.
Businesses have donated lots of merchandise, and there will also be several getaways, fishing charters, and more up for auction.
The Momentum Center started as a grassroots movement seven years ago with the goal of creating a stigma-free community.
“When we first started as a nonprofit, we were really just trying to connect people who wanted to make a difference with opportunities to do that while looking for gaps in the system,” said the organization’s founder, Barbara Lee VanHorssen. “As we started having our community conversations, mental illness came up over and over again as a top priority.”
Two years after launching the nonprofit, VanHorssen opened a physical center to try and address some of those needs.
“The physical space of the Momentum Center provides opportunity for people with mental illness, addictions and disabilities to find social and recreational opportunities,” she explained.
It costs just $1 to become a member, and no clinical diagnosis or referral is needed. The membership includes social and recreational activities, events and outings.
The center has member-only spaces and a cafe that is open to the public, which allows for more integration among people who are most at risk of becoming isolated.
“We really fill the gap in the continuum of care between the individual and clinical services. We’re offering exercise, nutrition… just positive community space. We’re finding that we’re having a statistically significant impact on depression, anxiety, loneliness, and social connectedness,” VanHorssen said.
That success has led to more funding from the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland to allow the Momentum Center to expand its efforts further. It’s a movement VanHorssen said is needed in every community.
“We can all do a little bit to help those who are most at risk,” she said.
More details about the Momentum Center and the prom can be found on the nonprofit’s website.